Mounting Fish and interesting paradox?

Submitted by marty on 6/14/06 at 1:32 PM. ( )

I've got a couple of friends (lol - I know!) that are full time taxidermists and I've always found it interesting that most prefer animals over fish because "with fish you're somewhat limited". At least that's what many say. I don't agree, but then again you should see some of their fish - lol!

Commercial fish taxidermy. Most customers want an "action" pose. Now the question I have is this. Is that "action" pose suppose to be depicting the fish in its natural environment feeding? Or is it depicting the customer hooking and fighting the fish? Some customers will tell you exactly what they want. And I suppose it's up to me to ask these questions (But sometimes you're best off NOT giving customers too many choices imho).

With all other animals, birds, etc. it's pretty clear. Most customers don't want to see a bloody hole in the side of their running deer. It's not like you can catch and release anything but fish. Most (non-fish) customers want a natural pose. With fish there's no clear choice. There's always a fair amount of room for interpretation between the customer and the taxidermist.

And we could even elaborate upon this too. Is the paint job reflecting the fish in it's natural state? Underwater? Or is it painted the way WE typically see the fish when holding it out of water? (Painting a Marlin comes to mind. I believe they change color quite a bit from their natural state to their fighting colors).

With competitions it's almost always depicting the fish in it's natural state. Not always, but usually. But with commercial fish taxidermy, it tends to be quite the opposite. Very few customers want to see their fish closed mouth and resting on the bottom with no curve in them. Flared gills and muppet mouths are also manytimes requested.

So, what do most of you fish folks think about this? Most of the time (unless I put a lure in their mouth) I try to depict a feeding fish. With Largemouth it seems I get a closer to a fighting fish with the flared gills and mouth fairly open. What do you think most customers want?

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Sometimes they don't know...

This response submitted by Randall M. on 6/14/06 at 2:31 PM. ( )

I am not a full-time fish taxidermist, but do only fish. I have found that most people that are having their first fish mounted don't know what they want. I will give them the options I can offer and most say "do what you think looks good." This makes it easy for me, and they are pleased when they pick up the finished fish and see it looking alive again! Just my two cents.

can of worms

This response submitted by Dan on 6/14/06 at 2:32 PM. ( )

Most people want to see their fish as big as they THINK it is. For the most part my customers want their fish "displayed". For example: fins streched out. Mouth wide open, slight curve, you get the idea.

There are the rare few who know (or at least think they know) what to look for in fish anatomy. Beware of the latter. It takes a little experience to sniff these boys out. They belong to a fraternity of: I know more than you do, so... WATCH IT BUB!

When I started mounting fish, they were always in a sterile display. Customers were always happy. Then I became more creative. Mounting fish as they are more likly to appear in nature. Customers were still happy, but I had to do some explaining. Then I shifted to recreate everthing as close to what it was when it was alive. BIG MISTAKE. People remembered things as what they perceived them to be. Not what they actually are.

Now, that being said, I mount all my fish as large as I can with out distorting from their original characteristics.

You are correct Dan...

This response submitted by Marc on 6/14/06 at 7:06 PM. ( )

all too often the customer sees the size before the quality mounting work. As far as poses and character in the mounts, I give them a few choices and steer them to what will look best. If they happen to belong to that fraternity mentioned above, I try to help them understand the perimeters of taxidermy. If they don't get the point, I tell them that I don't believe they have enough confidence in my abilities for me to be their artist and explain that my reputation was not built by doing funky requests, then I hand them their frozen fish and tell them there are many others in the book who will. You'd be surprised how fast they change their tune. After all, it is the taxidermists reputation that lies on that mount and to follow a rookies suggestion would be foolish as well as possibly detrimental to your good name (I.E. funky colors or weird positions).

Had one of those kind of guys make a big point

This response submitted by Cecil on 6/14/06 at 11:17 PM. ( )

about the missing dorsal fin on my display pike. I'm not talking abou the one and only one back near the caudal fin. He was sure I cut off the dorsal fin that was supposed to be farther forward and was on "all" fish.

God I wanted to deck this idiot so bad because he was such a know it all that didn't know a damn thing, but I stayed calm and bit my tongue.

The good thing was he was not a customer and came with a friend that was. The customer finally straightened him out.

I have another repeat customer that emphatically make a big deal out of telling me to make sure I do not make his fish look "pregnant." I honestly don't know what the problem is but he obviously has some issues.I did go to school with is wife and she has breasts down to here knees. LOL

How complicated it can get...

This response submitted by Dennis on 6/15/06 at 12:39 AM. ( )

Most want the in flared gills, curve, jumping, and especially chasing prey. Very few ask for relaxed poses. I currently have a request with a long story attached about how the fish pulled the pole in the water, how it was finally subdued, etc, and could I create a wall scene with all these elements in it. Did you ever notice how some folks think all fish should look like a largemouth with gills flared? One fellow objected to my use of epoxy on the wrinkled head of a perch, noting that they appeared "meaner" with the wrinkles!


This response submitted by Frank E Kotula on 6/15/06 at 6:36 AM. ( )

Hey Marty, IMHO I agree with a natural pose. I did do like the others when I first started and from doing competition and talking with many other fish guys along with all the seminars, they always talked about a natural pose. If a client would like a more action pose then charge more for it.

I thought about it and made the change to doing all my in a totally natural state. If needed I will show them reference of fish so they can see and understand this view.

If they disagree and would that wide open mouth and gills showing, I will be more than happy to do it and then explain the extra cost in it. Usually by the time I give them a price for it they agree and say do it in the natural way.

It tough but I try and educate the clients to see what is really right and wrong in fish that is done in such a bad way. It does nothing for them showing a fish with a wide gaping mouth trying to do what LOL, swallow their can of beer.

I just got done doing a ten pounder for the President of our local Bass Master's. There was no explaining to him at all. He was totally educated before I even asked, he explained, closed gills open mouth not gaping. Choose a base for it so it would be a desk top and away he went. With that said it only meant that he already understood that fish should be displayed naturally.

The main idea is to educate them and then charge them more for it if they don't want it.


This response submitted by Dan Gill on 6/16/06 at 11:40 AM. ( )

I saw a judge ding all the fish in the show, because they were glossy. "fish under water arent glossy." Maybe so but they sure are prettier. I think the competitions are changing all the "old school " ways. The vomit mouth fish. The flat wall mount pheasant with one wing up, one wing down. straight deer heads, I still get requests for neck mounts. the customers and just slow about catching up. the nice show room displays help, but many time they dont really look at my fish, they just want it on a board. boring..
Dan Gill

Do you have a brother Blue Gill?

This response submitted by Dennis on 6/17/06 at 1:20 AM. ( )

Dumb joke...just could not resist! Or perhaps one named Bull Gill?

no, but...

This response submitted by Dan Gill on 6/18/06 at 12:50 AM. ( )

I was going to name my daughter Ima...Ima blue.. didnt fly.
Dan Gill

I once has a Bass-Pro

This response submitted by JL on 6/18/06 at 6:05 PM. ( )

...bring back a smallmouth bass repro saying that I dropped a spot of white paint on the end of it's gill Was he embarassed when I showed him reference pictures of fresh-killed and live smallmouths showing the white spot.He had never noticed that before in spite of catching and releasing hundreds before. Good luck...JL

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